Auditory Ecology

The term “Auditory Ecology” refers to the acoustical environments a person experiences and the auditory demands the person has in these environments. Lately, there has been an increased interest in the auditory ecology concept as an important aspect when developing hearing devices, but also when designing more realistic and ecologically valid laboratory tests. In order to incorporate increased realism, it is necessary to map out, analyze and learn more about people’s auditory ecology. That is, the research in this area has a focus on people's listening environments, but also on individual listening intentions and tasks that are performed in these environments.
Signal-to-noise Ratios (SNRs) in realistic sound scenarios


Little is known about the acoustic characteristics of the listening situations people are encountering. Knowledge about sound levels and signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) in everyday situations is important in order to design realistic listening tests. Based on the sound material collected by Wagener, Hansen, and Ludvigsen (J Am Acad Audiol, 2008), new analyses of SNRs were performed. In addition to the calculation of absolute SNR values for a number of everyday life environments, a procedure to document the uncertainty of measurement was implemented.

Main Outcomes

The range of SNRs found in the material was large and the estimation accuracy was generally good, but worsened at negative SNRs. Altogether, the SNRs found in the selected environments of everyday life were mainly positive. It was however impossible to specify one "typical" realistic SNR, and even when the recordings were divided based on the situation, the SNRs within one category varied substantially.

Publications and Presentations

Smeds K, Wolters F, Rung M. (2015) Estimation of signal-to-noise ratios in realistic sound scenarios. J Am Acad Audiol 26: 183-96.

HADF (Hearing Aid Developers Forum) in Oldenburg (Germany), 2013

SPIN (Speech in Noise Workshop) in Vitoria (Spain), 2013

IHCON (International Hearing Aid Research Conference) in Lake Tahoe, California (USA), 2012

TeMA Hörsel (National conference for Audiologists, Engineers and ENT specialists) in Linköping (Sweden), 2012.

ICRA (International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology) in Toronto (Canada), 2011.
Common Sound Scenarios (CoSS)


The aim of the study was to learn more about the listening situations and acoustical environments people encounter in their everyday lives. Furthermore, the goal was to explore possibilities to select and categorize a number of common sound scenarios (CoSS) in order facilitate the design of more realistic laboratory test procedures.

Main Outcomes

As a result of a comprehensive literature study, a number of studies were identified which provided actual data on real life listening situations experienced by study participants. The data set was then used to build a structured framework of common sound scenarios. In order to assure ecological validity and relevance of the framework without limiting the application of the chosen scenarios based on regional or social aspects, context and a scenarios underlying (listening-) task played an essential role when developing the framework. The final framework consists of three main “intention” categories divided into seven “task” categories with two example scenarios each. That is, a total of 14 common sound scenarios are presented together with data driven indicators of their frequency of occurrence, importance and difficulty. 

Publications and Presentations

Wolters F, Smeds K, Schmidt E, Christensen EK, Norup C. (2016) Common Sound Scenarios: A Context-Driven Categorization of Everyday Sound Environments for Application in Hearing-Device Research. J Am Acad Audiol 27: 527-40.

IHCON (International Hearing Aid Research Conference) in Lake Tahoe, California (USA), 2016

ICRA (The International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology) in Berkely, California (USA), 2015

STAF (National Swedish audiology conference for engineers and technicians) in Halmstad (Sweden), 2014 


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